ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News
New mapping technique can help fight extreme poverty

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 03:25 PM PST

A new mapping technique shows how researchers are developing computational tools that combine cellphone records with data from satellites and geographic information systems to create timely and incredibly detailed poverty maps. Unlike surveys or censuses, which can take years and cost millions of dollars, these maps can be generated quickly and cost-efficiently.

Life of an albatross: Tackling individuality in studies of populations

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 03:25 PM PST

Ecologists commonly round off the individuality of individuals, treating animals of the same species, sex, and age like identical units. But individual differences can have demographic effects on interpretation of data at the scale of whole populations, if due to an underlying variability in individual quality, not chance. Researchers examined in the peculiarities that make some wandering albatrosses more successful than others.

Suite of papers shed light on decade-long stem cell mystery

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST

A series of studies has shed light on vital, yet previously unclear, aspects of cell reprogramming.

Brittle starfish shows how to make tough ceramics

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST

Nature inspires innovation. An international team of scientists has discovered how a brittle star can create material like tempered glass underwater. The findings may open new bio-inspired routes for toughening brittle ceramics in various applications that span from optical lenses to automotive turbochargers and even biomaterial implants.

Algae could feed and fuel planet with aid of new high-tech tool

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST

Vast quantities of medicines and renewable fuels could be produced by algae using a new gene-editing technique, a study suggests.

Right-handed and left-handed molecules

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

The subtle properties of mirror molecules have been revealed by a new study. The researchers examined camphor photoionization using an ultrafast laser. Circularly polarized light directed at camphor molecules allowed the measurement of electron emission, giving the first precise measurement of the asymmetry in the reaction of a camphor molecule. It confirms that more electrons are emitted in one direction, but also leads to the discovery that they are emitted seven attoseconds earlier than in the opposite.

New algorithm recognizes distinct dolphin clicks in underwater recordings

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Scientists have developed a new algorithm that can identify distinct dolphin click patterns among millions of clicks in recordings of wild dolphins. This approach could potentially help distinguish between dolphin species in the wild.

Monkey feel, monkey do: Microstimulation in premotor cortex can instruct movement

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Finding ways to get around those broken networks in the brain is an important area of research for those seeking to develop treatment interventions. Now researchers are showing in monkeys that stimulation delivered directly to the premotor cortex can elicit a feeling or experience that can instruct different movements, even when the stimulus is too small to induce any response directly.

CRISPR-Cas9 technique targeting epigenetics reverses disease in mice

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Scientists report a modified CRISPR-Cas9 technique that alters the activity, rather than the underlying sequence, of disease-associated genes. The researchers demonstrate that this technique can be used in mice to treat several different diseases.

Heart monitors on wild narwhals reveal alarming responses to stress

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Stress from human disturbances could cause behavioral responses in narwhals that are inconsistent with their physiological capacities, researchers say. They found that narwhals released after entanglement in nets and outfitted with heart monitors performed a series of deep dives, swimming hard to escape, while their heart rates dropped to unexpectedly low levels of three to four beats per minute.

Revising the story of the dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Most people are now familiar with the traditional ‘Out of Africa’ model: modern humans evolved in Africa and then dispersed across Asia and reached Australia in a single wave about 60,000 years ago. However, technological advances in DNA analysis and other fossil identification techniques, as well as an emphasis on multidisciplinary research, are revising this story. Recent discoveries show that humans left Africa multiple times prior to 60,000 years ago, and that they interbred with other hominins in many locations across Eurasia.

Crafty crows know what it takes to make a good tool

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Biologists have discovered how New Caledonian crows make one of their most sophisticated tool designs — sticks with a neatly shaped hooked tip. New Caledonian crows are the only species besides humans known to manufacture hooked tools in the wild. The study reveals how crows manage to fashion particularly efficient tools, with well-defined ‘deep’ hooks.

Physiochemical ‘fingerprint’ of parasitic ‘American murderer’ uncovered

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

The physical and chemical ‘fingerprint’ profile of a parasitic worm, which infects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, has been uncovered by researchers — a discovery that could allow for more effective and earlier treatment. They have captured detailed movies reproducing the process the worm goes through as it enters the body and sheds its skin allowing them to interrogate the worm surface and its sheath in unprecedented detail.

Hydropower dam energy without sacrificing Mekong food supply: New research offers solution

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:17 AM PST

Nearly 100 hydropower dams are planned for construction along tributaries off the Mekong River’s 2,700-mile stretch. In a new article, researchers present a mathematical formula to balance power generation needs with the needs of fisheries downstream.

Researchers establish long-sought source of ocean methane

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:16 AM PST

A significant amount of the methane naturally released into the atmosphere comes from the ocean. This has long puzzled scientists because there are no known methane-producing organisms near the ocean’s surface. A team of researchers has made a discovery that could help to answer this ‘ocean methane paradox.’

It’s all in the ears: Inner ears of extinct sea monsters mirror those of today’s animals

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 11:16 AM PST

A new study has revealed that an extinct group of marine reptiles called sauropterygians evolved similar inner ear proportions to those of some modern day aquatic reptiles and mammals.

A spring-loaded sensor for cholesterol in cells

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 10:22 AM PST

New research explains how an enzyme acts as a kind of thermostat that responds to and adjusts levels of cholesterol in the cell. This insight could lead to new strategies for combating high cholesterol.

Common fungus helps dengue virus thrive in mosquitoes

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 08:49 AM PST

A species of fungus that lives in the gut of some Aedes aegypti mosquitoes increases the ability of dengue virus to survive in the insects, according to a study.

Innovative system images photosynthesis to provide picture of plant health

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 08:48 AM PST

Researchers have developed a new imaging system that is designed to monitor the health of crops in the field or greenhouse. The new technology could one day save farmers significant money and time by enabling intelligent agricultural equipment that automatically provides plants with water or nutrients at the first signs of distress.

More than 1,000 ancient sealings discovered

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 07:25 AM PST

Classical scholars have discovered a large number of sealings in southeast Turkey. More than 1,000 sealings give new insights into the Greco-Roman pantheon. The finds were in a late antique building complex point to a hitherto unknown church.

Bacteria activate their own killer

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 07:25 AM PST

A new photothermal treatment could help to overcome antibiotic resistance. In this method, an agent transforms near-infrared light into local heating, which kills the pathogens. However, this ‘transformer’ must first be activated. In this case the target bacteria do this themselves. Other types of bacteria do not switch the agent on and remain unharmed.

New discovery, more bees mark Michigan’s first, full bee census

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 07:24 AM PST

The first complete bee census in Michigan has confirmed a new species and revealed that the actual number of bee species in Michigan exceeded earlier estimates.

Forests are the key to fresh water

Posted: 07 Dec 2017 06:50 AM PST

Freshwater resources are critical to both human civilization and natural ecosystems, but researchers have discovered that changes to ground vegetation can have as much of an impact on global water resources as climate change.

New species of extinct marsupial lion discovered in Australia

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 04:37 PM PST

A team of Australian scientists has discovered a new species of marsupial lion which has been extinct for at least 19 million years. The findings are based on fossilized remains of the animal’s skull, teeth, and humerus (upper arm bone) found in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of remote northwestern Queensland.

Dust play significant role fertilizing mountain plants

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 02:42 PM PST

Researchers found foreign dust likely fertilizes plants in many locations worldwide.

A 100-fold leap to GigaDalton DNA nanotech

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 01:23 PM PST

A research team has leapfrogged their ‘DNA bricks’ technology by two orders of magnitude, enabling next-generation DNA bricks to self-assemble into three-dimensional nanostructures that are 100 times more complex than those created with existing methods. The study provides user-friendly computational tools to design DNA nanostructures with complex cavities (and possibly surfaces) that have the potential to serve as building components in numerous nanotechnological applications in medicine and engineering.

West coast earthquake early warning system continues progress toward public use

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 01:23 PM PST

A decade after beginning work on an earthquake early warning system, scientists and engineers are fine-tuning a US West Coast prototype that could be in limited public use in 2018.

Probiotic gets a boost from breast milk

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 10:21 AM PST

Supplementation with probiotics can improve a person’s gut health, but the benefits are often fleeting, and colonization by the probiotic’s good microbes usually doesn’t last. Breast milk may help sustain those colonies in the long run, say researchers.

Head start through human intervention: Study on the spread of European plant species on other continents

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:25 AM PST

A new study has investigated the spread of European plant species on other continents.

Physicists propose a new method for monitoring nuclear waste

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:25 AM PST

New scientific findings suggest neutrino detectors may play an important role in ensuring better monitoring and safer storage of radioactive material in nuclear waste repository sites.

Hydrogen gas from enzyme production

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:25 AM PST

Researchers have uncovered a crucial reaction principle of hydrogen-producing enzymes. The scientists investigated the production of molecular hydrogen in single-cell green algae. They were able to demonstrate how the enzyme succeeds in transferring two electrons in succession to two hydrogen ions and thereby assume stable intermediate states.

Separated since the dinosaurs, bamboo-eating lemurs, pandas share common gut microbes

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST

A new study finds that bamboo lemurs, giant pandas and red pandas share 48 gut microbes in common — despite the fact that they are separated by millions of years of evolution.

Cell tissue must not freeze!

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST

Nature has evolved sugars, amino acids, and special antifreeze proteins as cryoprotectants. People use organic solvents and synthetic polymers as additives to prevent cell cultures from freezing damage. Now, scientists have combined both methods: They introduced polyproline, a polypeptide made of the natural amino acid proline, as an effective cryoprotectant for monolayers of cells.

Viruses share genes with organisms across the tree of life, study finds

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:24 AM PST

A new study finds that viruses share some genes exclusively with cells that are not their hosts. The study adds to the evidence that viruses swap genes with a variety of cellular organisms and are agents of diversity, researchers say.

‘Stressed out’ cocoa trees could produce more flavorful chocolate

Posted: 06 Dec 2017 09:19 AM PST

Most people agree that chocolate tastes great, but is there a way to make it taste even better? Perhaps, according to scientists who looked at different conditions that can put a strain on cocoa trees. They say that although the agricultural method used to grow cocoa trees doesn’t matter that much, the specific weather conditions do.